Doha, Dec 5 (EFE).- Brazil outclassed South Korea for the first 45 minutes and then cruised down the home stretch to record a 4-1 victory here Monday night and a berth in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Just three days after a surprise 1-0 loss to Cameroon in their final round-robin match in Group G, the Selecao came out possessed in the first half of their round-of-16 contest at Stadium 974 in Doha.
Vinicius Junior scored the first goal from the left side of the box in the seventh minute, when he lofted a stylish strike well out of the reach of South Korean net minder Kim Seung-gyu and into the top right of the goal.
The second goal came on a penalty conversion after a questionable foul was called on South Korean midfielder Jung Woo-young, who inadvertently kicked Richarlison while trying to clear the ball from the area.
The infraction occurred when the Tottenham Hotspur forward suddenly jumped in front of Jung while going for the ball.
Neymar Jr., who was returning from injury, converted the ensuing penalty try in the 13th minute for his 76th goal as a member of the Brazilian squad, one short of Pele’s all-time record.
Already in dire straits, South Korea looked to produce some magic of their own and nearly delivered in the 17th minute on a powerful blast by Hwang Hee-chan toward the upper right corner of the goal.
Brazilian net minder Alisson, however, snuffed out the chance with a brilliant save on the full stretch.
After denying South Korea at one end, four Brazilian players were involved in the team’s third goal in the 29th minute.
Richarlison began the play by dribbling the ball three times on his head before leaving it for Marquinhos.
Thiago Silva then received the ball from the Paris Saint-Germain star and with one touch sent a through ball to a breaking Richarlison, who slipped his shot past Kim for a 3-0 lead.
Brazil were in showtime mode at that juncture and put the finishing touch on their first-half onslaught when Vinicius lofted a sublime pass that Lucas Paqueta volleyed home in the 36th minute.
In the second half, the South Korean side looked to salvage some pride and nearly got on the scoreboard in the 68th on a shot by Hwang that forced Alisson to make another outstanding save.
The Liverpool netminder had no chance eight minutes later though when Paik Seung-ho blasted a shot from well outside the box that powered its way into the back of the net to narrow the lead to 4-1.
Brazil, for their part, made a raft of second-half substitutions, apparently content to have cruised into the last eight with a comfortable win.
After the routine victory, the Selecao gathered for a photo in front of a big banner paying homage to 82-year-old soccer legend Pele, who is receiving treatment for a respiratory infection at a Sao Paulo hospital. EFE